The finalists for the 2020 Hugo Awards have been announced, including those for the Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK FINALISTS
Catfishing on CatNet, by Naomi Kritzer
Deeplight, by Frances Hardinge
Dragon Pearl, by Yoon Ha Lee
Minor Mage, by T. Kingfisher
Riverland, by Fran Wilde
The Wicked King, by Holly Black
BEST GRAPHIC STORY FINALISTS includes:
Mooncakes, by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker
Here are some of the new teen titles being published in April. These all have received praise and starred reviews:
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder
The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Heads Up: Changing Minds on Mental Health by Melanie Siebert, illustrated by Belle Wuthrich
Kent State by Deborah Wiles
Lightness of Hands by Jeff Garvin
Little Universes by Heather Demetrios
The Lucky Ones by Liz Lawson
They Went Left by Monica Hesse
This Is My Brain in Love by I. W. Gregorio
We Are Power: How Nonviolent Activism Changed the World by Todd Hasak-Lowy
We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid
Tigers, Not Daughters by Samantha Mabry (9781616208967)
San Antonio is not a comfortable place for the Torres sisters. Their mother died giving birth to Rosa, the youngest sister, and their father never recovered from her death, drowning his feelings in drink. When the oldest sister, Ana falls from her window and dies, it takes a great toll on the entire family. A year later, the cracks are beginning to become even larger. Their father is rarely home and when he is he is verbally abusive, demanding, and drunk. Jessica, who got Ana’s bedroom and clothes, mourns her sister by dating the same boy she did. The relationship is violent and controlling, but Jessica can’t seem to move on. Iridian has stopped going to school, reads the same book over and over again, and writes her own stories. She finds herself caught indoors, unwilling to leave their horrible house. Rosa seeks the hyena that is loose in their neighborhood, wondering what special gift she might have and searching for it outside and in religion. The girls all want to escape, and it may just take Ana returning as a ghost to get them free.
Mabry’s novel is exceptional. Her writing is achingly beautiful, telling a story of profound grief and pain. Yet throughout, each of the sisters has bursts of hope, their own unique way forward potentially, if they could just take it. It’s tantalizing writing that creates its own unique emotional tug and writing that offers gem-like moments of clarity before succumbing under the weight of grief once more. The flashes of anger are like lightning on the page, bursts where one thinks things are about to change.
The sisters are all wonderfully crafted and unique from one another. The interplay of their relationships feels like sisterhood, lifting one another up unexpectedly, injuring each other inadvertently and fighting like hell to save the others.
A great teen novel about sisterhood, grief and ghosts. Appropriate for ages 14-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Algonquin.
The shortlist for the 2020 YA Book Prize has been announced. The prize celebrates the best of YA literature from the UK and Ireland. The judge panel includes librarians, authors, and teens. Here are the short-listed titles:
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
Crossfire by Malorie Blackman
The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
Deeplight by Frances Hardinge
Furious Thing by Jenny Downham
The Gifted, the Talented and Me by William Sutcliffe
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
Meat Market by Juno Dawson
The Places I’ve Cried in Public by Holly Bourne
The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh (9781250171122)
Snap knows that the witch has taken her dog, probably to use him for a ritual or eat him. So she sneaks into the witch’s house to rescue him. But Snap discovers that Jacks isn’t really a witch after all and was actually trying to save her dog after an accident. Jacks is actually pretty cool, creating skeletons of animals from road kill and selling them online. Jacks also helps Snap when she discovers finds some baby opossums. As the two rear the opossums together, Snap discovers her own love of bones and science. But Jacks still has a surprise herself, real magic, that she can help Snap learn too.
This graphic novel is such a treat of a book. It offers a heroine who is not afraid to be different from the stereotypical girl, exploring death, animals and magic. In the story, Snap gains a best friend, Lou, someone who is exploring their gender. Lou finds support with Snap and her mother, who share clothes and offer a safe space. The story also offers background on Jacks and Snap’s grandmother with a sad tale of love that had to make way, or did it?
The writing is superb, the plotting is clever and clear. The art is phenomenal with race and gender playing major roles. The characters are deep, well conceived and very diverse.
A marvelous and magical graphic novel that includes LGBT, race and gender elements. Appropriate for ages 10-13.
Reviewed from copy provided by First Second.
Layoverland by Gabby Noone (9781984836120)
Anyone who has ever taken an airplane can completely get behind purgatory being an airport. Still, it is surprising when Bea finds herself first in a car crash and then waking up in an airplane. When Bea discovers she is in purgatory, she wonders why she hasn’t gone straight to hell after the way she treated her sister just before Bea died. Unfortunately, Bea has been selected for a special program where she is removed from the lottery of names to make their way to Heaven and must help 5000 people find their way to Heaven before she can leave the airport. She gets to wear a hideous orange outfit and then is assigned to help the boy who killed her through to Heaven. Now she has to decide whether to help him or keep him in purgatory with her. The choice gets a lot more difficult when she finds out how much fun it is to kiss him and that she just might be falling for him. This may be Hell after all.
Noone’s writing is deft and exactly on the mark, making this novel’s tone just right. The entire purgatory experience is marvelous with showers that don’t have hot water, food encased in jello, and no Internet or real TV. Throw in a girl who can’t wash the mascara drips from her face or wash her dirty hair, and you have a great recipe for a book. When Caleb enters the novel, readers will respond like Bea, not sure whether to detest him or adore him. Their banter is right on, with Bea often offering her own large opinions on things like mansplaining and high school.
With a concept and writing this good, it is great to have characters this well drawn too. Bea is angry in a way that will speak to all teenage girls. She cares deeply, yet also doesn’t give a crap a lot of the time too. She is manipulative, something which comes in handy with convincing people to open up to her so they can move on to Heaven. The added pressure of the 5,000 lives she must help is twisted and bizarre, giving her just enough room to both care and not care at the same time.
Hilarious, romantic and never dull, this novel is heavenly. Appropriate for ages 13-17.
Reviewed from library copy.
Here are seven books for teens that will be released this month. They have plenty of buzz with a mix of starred reviews and large print runs.
Glass Town by Isabel Greenberg
A Phoenix Must First Burn by Patrice Caldwell
Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi & Jason Reynolds
Thorn by Intisar Khanani
When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk
Wicked As You Wish by Rin Chupeco
Cast Away: Poems for Our Time by Naomi Shihab Nye (9780062907691)
By the Young People’s Poet Laureate, this collection of poems shines a fierce light on the garbage and litter we create and toss away. The poems tie litter to larger environmental concerns as well as American politics in the time of anti-truth and fake news. Some poems question whether technology is helping us or not too. This is a collection that is thought provoking and insistent that we begin to pay attention to the large and small choices we are making each day and figure out how we too can make a difference and start picking up our own litter, both physical and figurative.
Nye has written a collection of poems with a strong political viewpoint that demands attention. Yet she never veers into lecturing readers, rather using the power of her words to make us all think differently about our privilege on this planet, how we abuse it, and how to restore balance to the world, our lives and our politics. The poems move from one to the next with a force of nature, almost like wandering your own garbage-strewn path and engaging with it. Sometimes you may lack the equipment, but the hope is that your own fingers start twitching to pick things up too.
A strong collection that is provocative and tenacious. Appropriate for ages 10-14.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Greenwillow Books.
Red Hood by Elana K. Arnold (9780062742377)
Bisou knows the cruelty of men, having found her mother dead at the hands of her father when she was a small child. She was taken in by her grandmother, a strong woman who lives a solitary and simple life in Seattle. Bisou lives much the same way, having few friends until she starts to date. Everything changes when on the night of homecoming, she runs from her boyfriend and finds herself alone in the woods and being stalked by a wolf. When she defends herself and the wolf lies dead, she heads home. The next day she hears of a boy found dead in the woods from the same injuries as the wolf she killed. Bisou soon discovers her family history, the tale of her grandmother, and the power of being a hunter.
Arnold has taken the tale of Little Red Riding Hood and turned it forcefully on its head. Her writing is heart-pounding and fast paced yet also takes its time to create settings and characters that are vivid on the page. She takes elements of traditional societal shame and makes them part of Bisou’s power, including menstruation. The book also captures sex scenes where there is no consequences other than pleasure for Bisou, something that is so rare in teen fiction that it is noteworthy.
Arnold’s deep look at family violence and sexual predators doesn’t pull any punches or many any excuses. Bisou instead of being the prey becomes the hunter, called out of her bed by the moon. With ties to both fantasy and elements of allegory, this novel is dark and bloody, just right to be relished by young feminists.
Strongly written, violent and triumphant, this novel is tremendous. Appropriate for ages 16-18.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Balzer + Bray.